Stories We Could TellStories We Could Tell by Tony Parsons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

great book, easy to read, satisfied with the ending.
Bearing in mind the entire story unfolds over one single night, namely the night Elvis died, you would expect this story to be Elvis through and through. Well it isn’t. Which is good. Instead you follow a group of young music journalists, not much older than very early twenties, cock sure of what they are doing and where they are going, only to find 12 hours later that everything has changed, mostly for the good. Pretty much a coming-of-age book.
Based in London, jumping from clubs, to squats, to punch-ups and much more, you can’t help but recognise a little of yourself in this book. How you felt the world was at your feet and that you knew everything, only to discover at some point you know nothing at all and, that as you get older life will send you who knows where when you least expect it.

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Best advice when looking for a job, screw the advice

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Having done a spot of job hunting of recent, and having had no reason to put together a CV for well over 20 years, I set about seeking advice hoping to get it right first time.

Well. To be frank. All the advice given, Googled or otherwise gained was mostly a load of old rubbish. And why? Because all the advice given is by currently employed people with no reason or intention of keeping a CV up to date, probably ever. And to be completely blunt, my advice to them is to MOVE AWAY FROM THE ADVICE COUNTER SO FAST YOU LEAVE A DUST STORM THAT REMAINS PERFECTLY CLEAR IN OUTER SPACE AND BEYOND.

Take the advice regarding ageism – there’s a lot out there. I’m early fifties, and the advice given is: you don’t have to add your age, you don’t have to add the years worked at any given job, and you don’t need to add when you graduated from school/university/college. Oh really? Well have you attempted to complete an online application lately? Because practically every job you apply for these days requires mandatory data input of namely birthday/age, years at job etc etc. IF YOU DON’T ADD IT IN, YOU CAN’T GET PAST THAT SCREEN, AS IN, YOU ARE STUCK AND APPLICATION STATUS = FAILED. Do I hear a suggestion to lie perhaps?

My next favourite – note the sarcasm – is, do not exceed 2 pages. Bullet form key points of each job held. Oh really? Two agencies I used came back to me with, you need to expand big time if you want to get an interview, forget the bullets, give the employer detail and, if you exceed 2 pages so be it. MAKE YOUR MINDS UP PLEASE.

But the thing that really gets my goat going is the request for a lengthy personal statement to include examples of how you can fulfil the duties of this position, and how you would fulfil the personal specifications for said job – they even suggest adding an extra page if need be, meaning, you’d better tell us a lot about yourself or don’t bother applying.  And while yes, I raise my hand and agree a personal statement is valid, the reason my goat gets going is that after compiling anything from the requested 500 to 3000 words, you barely get a reply or feedback or anything that gives any reason to believe your hours of work for this literary piece was even read. HAVE A LITTLE RESPECT. HOW ABOUT YOU TELL ME WHY I’M NOT SUITABLE THEN? YOU DO KNOW I PUT MY HEART INTO THAT PIECE OF WORK, DON’T YOU?

Yes I’m having a bit of rant. Yes I am now employed. And yes I’d love to hear what advice you’ve been given, or have given, which you consider to be good, bad or just plain STOOPID

 

 

 

 

Book Review – Hiss and Hers

Hiss and Hers (Agatha Raisin, #23)Hiss and Hers by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hiss and Hers was my first Agatha Raisin, chosen randomly from the library.

I classify this book as comedy/crime and was a quick and easy read. The story evolves around PI Agatha Raisin falling madly in love with a hunk of a gardener, only for advances to be avoided, and then said gardener is murdered. To say more would be adding spoilers.

There are loads of colourful characters, and I found myself confused at times around who was who and why they were there. That said, the crime was easily followed, not quite easy to believe, but very entertaining.

There are a number of Agatha Raisin books, and I’d read more. Hiss and Hers

(Original review on Goodreads)

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Pied Piper review

Pied PiperPied Piper by Nevil Shute

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice little read was this one. The story is about an elderly man embarking on a fishing trip to France. Once there, the inevitable happens, WWII erupts, and feeling the need to be home to do his bit, decides to return to the UK as soon as possible.

Heading home on his own would be easy, but having befriended an English couple living in Switzerland, he is requested to take their 2 young children with him. Believing this would hamper him only slightly, and with little knowledge of how quickly the Germans are moving, he agrees. Within hours things start to go wrong, and quickly the number of children in his charge grows from 2 to 3, and eventually to 7.

As war intensifies, so the routes and transport they need become non-existent. Food too. And of course safety. Left to little more than a broken pram and determination to keep the children safe, John Howard sets out to achieve what many will see as unachievable.

Pied Piper

#amreading

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Great piece from WP missmelissawrites

Tofino-Paddle-Surf-Stand-Up-Paddle-Boarding-Group-Shot

(photo credit )

I don’t do enough of this, but will do so from now on – reblog and promote others that is.

I’ve known Melissa for years, meeting online when we both enrolled for one of the Get Smarter Writing courses. Subsequently we met up for coffee with other course participants, and over the years we have met and shared, and supported.

Melissa not only blogs, writes, mother’s children and a husband, she also paddle surfs. Her stories are great fun, and I hope you will enjoy reading this latest piece published in Zigzagsurf magazine. She’s a great read

THE THINKING GIRL’S GUIDE TO LIFE WITH A SURFER – by: Melissa Volker

 

 

returning to pen and paper

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When earlier this year we returned to the UK, after living in South Africa for a million years, I was more heart sore than I let on about leaving my girls behind. And despite them being young women, one married, one about to be, both happy, that wasn’t enough to allow me an easy “leave”.  Even before boarding the plane I was wondering how on earth we would be able to stay in touch. How would we be able to deal with not having our treasured meet up for shopping and dinner nights, or go to a movie, or visit a winery in the glorious Cape?  Even an opportunity to sit outside a changing room as they tried on clothes was going to be missed. Even harder would be the “are you home, popping round” calls.

Of course we have Skype and email and Whatsapp, which have been fantastic, and are the three things I wish had been available to me when leaving the UK for SA in the 1980s. Back then it was about pen to paper, email quality to keep the weight and cost down. Red and blue edged envelopes. Licking small, blue, airmail stickers, whose glue would leave you pulling a face, and wishing there was an easier way to communicate!

air mail envelope

And then it struck me. Why not write to them? I like writing. I can throw a few words together. Let’s give this a go. It could be good, just what I need.  And it is.

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Once a week, often Monday morning, I take hold of my pen, sit in a quiet spot, and write. Not pages and pages. Instead I fill a blank card, the sort you buy in a bookshop with beautiful photo images, often purchased from places we’ve visited, or a card that caught the eye at the supermarket. It’s enough space to have a nice chat, without rambling. If there is a little more to say, and space allows, the back is also used. I tell them about what we’ve been doing, what we are planning, and even things I’ve seen which had me chuckling – a lady outside her house, covered in what looked like ash, shaking herself off while yelling at her children to go to their room was one such chuckle moment.

thames-post-box

Writing to them somehow makes me feel as if I’m chatting directly to them, more so than taping at a keyboard. And while we continue to electronically communicate regularly, the writing to them is treasured. As is the moment I hand over the colourful envelope at my local post office. For it’s at that point I know what I’ve said is on it’s way. And as I walk away, I’m already planning my next card purchase, but never the content. That only happens on Monday morning when there is time to reflect on the last seven days.

I’ve lost count of how many cards have been written, but I’m guessing 8 to each of them so far. The aim being for them to receive a letter/card a week. Sometimes it works, and sometimes they get 2 at once. But so far so good. The SA postal system has not let me down.

And then there is a magical moment when I receive a card back. I held one in my hands today and beamed.

And as I did, I hoped they both do the same when they receive mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jedland video

Writing a sequel is always fun, especially when you have a character like Jed P Horton.

With that in mind, and to help me as well, I’ve put together a short video of a reading from the beginning of Jedland, along with some happy snappies to set the scene of Jed’s journey

Hope you enjoy

Jedland – The Sequel

 

Jedland has always held a soft spot for me, and while I originally thought Jed’s story had been told, I now realise it needs to be finished.

The Jedland sequel picks up in 2016, where Jed is now in his early fifties, no longer working in the press room, yet still hankering for a final dream to be fulfilled.

Below is a short snippet

2016

Heading along Leighton Buzzard’s High Street in search of a cup of tea at May’s Tea Shop, Jed P Horton’s well-eaten, and almost non-existent fingernails held grip to a travel brochure he’d had his eye on for some time now. The brochure had been the only change to his routine. A routine that took him daily along the same route . . . always at the same time of ten in the morning . . . his feet religiously secured in a pair of favoured red Doc Martens, which after suffering years under his lumbered pace, were now held together with more of a wing and a prayer than the dozen or so tubes of glue he’d purchased over the years. It was fair to say Jed’s boots had seen better days. And it was fair to say Jed had too.

Of late the nip in the air had started to catch up with him, and not bothering to slow his pace, nor change his grip on the brochure, Jed sunk his neck into the up-turned collar of his weathered, brown leather jacket, going as far as pulling the zip hard until it would go no further, and even then giving it an extra pull to ensure it was right to the top.

As to the teashop, well it certainly wasn’t May acting as a draw card. Not a chance. For as Jed would say, May had taken the wrong turn when passing the looks department on her way to be birthed. She’d also gone on to make matters worse by adding tattooed lips and eyebrows – which even Jed would wager money on being a do-it-at-home job. She’d effectively done a hatchet job on herself, and having done so, now paid the price of garnering the kind of attention she’d hoped for, but yet beneath was along the lines of, what the heck has this nutter done?

Jed could vouch for this too, having paid witness to a combination of surprise, fear and confusion, as non-locals entering the teashop found themselves holding May’s gaze far longer than they really should do, or for that matter need to. They pretty much followed the same pattern, trailing an eyebrow to the peak, just below her heavy fringe of grey hair and of late purple highlights, and then back down again, before crossing to the other brow and repeating. If they weren’t careful they could be at it all day, eyes going up and down, down and up, all the while May smiling a toothless smile, as often than not she’d left her teeth at home, or had dropped them in a glass by the till.

In fact both ends of May had fallen victim to the wrong end of the body scale. There were bunions too. Great, big, onion sized lumps, overlapping her sandals. Jed had caught sight of them often enough over the years, and in doing so could well understand the ease of being put you off your teacake, should they be in view as you went to take a bite.

No, what drew Jed to May’s then was how she ran the place. Setting it up as you’d have expected in the 70s and early 80s. A place where when you wanted a cuppa, all you had to do was ask for a tea. There was none of this choose a blend of leaves from a carefully written chalkboard, secured to the wall behind the counter. Further more, and thankfully, there was no sight of egg-timers, fancy pots, and pyramid shaped teabags within a fifty-mile radius. No way, all you need do at May’s was offer a nod, a thumbs up, and a single word, tea. Magic it was, almost immediately you got your tea; a heavy, thick-lipped mug of strong, sweet tea that warmed you to the core, and called Jed back every day.

If he were to be lucky, May would have some sausages sizzling too. And being it was market day, she probably had some soft, fresh rolls to push two fat ones into, layering with them HP brown sauce and a flick of mustard. Talk about a winning breakfast. He was already licking his lips as he touched the door of the Tea Shop.